"I did not know that human hearts can reveal themselves as frozen rivers, but still I asked myself: what will happen when the ice on the rivers melts? Will everyone see what the water gives – will they turn their heads, cover up their faces? Will they say – I did not see anything – I did not hear anything – I don't know anything – Nothing happened."
Đorđe Lebović, from Semper idem
Persecution is a form of human behaviour as old as man himself. Individuals are often called out for their differences and unfairly mocked by society without concrete arguments or evidence, without any significant reason. The need to accuse and lay guilt for the situation in society at somebody's door is still an active mechanism.
The basic concept of the piece is to shed light on this mechanism, which is very present today. The goal is to, through interactive installations, reveal the symbolical spheres of violence and destruction based on depersonalization of the victim.
Installation I shows one of the most famous instruments of torture in history. It was used to torture the accused person and to extort a confession of “guilt“. The visitor is invited to sit in it. Through painful sitting and observing the text appearing on the video the person is reminded and forced to become aware of the surroundings and to identify with the accused. This experience should prompt facing the consequences of somebody else’s and of individual (in)activity.
Installation II was used as a medieval punishment method. The accused was made to wear the “mask of shame” during day and night, while eating, sleeping without any possibility of removal until the end of the punishment period. Passers-by were allowed to insult and beat the wearer. By putting on the mask the visitor feels empathy for the wearer born from the grotesque and distorted image reflected in a mirror. The questions arising from this action are – is punishment appropriate for the crime committed, if a crime was committed at all. Is disrespect for human beings and degradation of their appearance a way to achieve justice?
* Both installations are part of a project Witches – The History of Persecution by Gordana Lebović and Vedran Vučić that were presented at an exhibition by the same name housed in the Cultural Centre of Belgrade.
video: Zoran Đurković
sound: Vedran Vučić
production: Omen teatar